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Original Investigation
April 30, 2020

Frequency of Abstracts Presented at Eye and Vision Conferences Being Developed Into Full-Length Publications: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Clinical Trials and Evidence Synthesis, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Department of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 3School of Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2020;138(6):689-697. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.1264
Key Points

Question  What is the proportion of abstracts presented at eye and vision conferences that are subsequently published in full articles and what factors are associated with more frequent publications?

Finding  In this systematic review and meta-analysis, 38% of abstracts presented at eye and vision conferences were subsequently published in full. Oral presentations and basic science research were significantly associated with more frequent publications.

Meaning  These data suggest that most research presented at eye and vision conferences does not reach the public domain within 2 years, indicating the need to investigate the underlying reasons for nonpublication within 2 years of presentation.


Importance  Conference proceedings are platforms for early communication and dissemination of relevant and timely topics of interest. More than half of abstracts presented at biomedical conferences fail to be published in full, resulting in wasted time and resources.

Objective  To systematically review reports evaluating the proportion of abstracts presented at eye and vision conferences that are subsequently published in full and investigate factors associated with publication.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, and reference lists of included reports were systematically searched from inception to January 11, 2019.

Study Selection  Reports that examined the proportion of abstracts presented at eye and vision conferences and subsequently published in peer-reviewed journals 24 or more months later.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Two reviewers independently assessed study eligibility, abstracted data, and evaluated the risk of bias. A meta-analysis was conducted to determine the proportion of abstracts published in full and assess factors associated with subsequent full publication.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Proportion of abstracts presented at eye and vision conferences subsequently published in full.

Results  There were 19 reports covering 12 261 abstracts presented at 11 unique eye and vision conferences. The overall risk of bias of the reports was low. The weighted proportion of abstracts published in full was 38.0% (95% CI, 31.7%-44.3%) and 54.9% (95% CI, 34.6%-73.7%) among reports restricted to abstracts describing randomized clinical trials. Nine reports (47.4%) investigated the proportion of abstracts subsequently published by ophthalmic subspecialties, ranging from 28.3% (oculoplastics: 95% CI, 17.2%-42.9%) to 42.7% (glaucoma: 95% CI, 34.7%-51.0%). Oral presentation (risk ratio, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.20-1.76) and basic science (risk ratio, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.05-1.47) were significantly associated with higher full publication; factors not significantly associated with full publication included positive results, randomized clinical trial vs other study design, multicenter study, and industry funding.

Conclusion and Relevance  More than 60% of abstracts presented at eye and vision conferences were not published in full within 2 years of conference presentation. Failure to disseminate research studies in peer-reviewed journals is not desired, especially when involving human participants.

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